Temple Owls

Temple pro day: Haason Reddick rising; Dion Dawkins flexible

Temple pro day: Haason Reddick rising; Dion Dawkins flexible

NFL scouts and coaches from every team in the league flooded into Temple's indoor practice facility for the Owls' pro day on Wednesday.

Temple had 14 participants in its pro day, but nearly everyone's attention was focused on Haason Reddick. The versatile defensive end, who projects as a linebacker at the next level, has watched his stock has ascend over the past couple months.

Reddick, who was projected to be a mid-round pick a few months back, is now projected to go in the first round after his performances at the Senior Bowl and the NFL
Scouting Combine.

At the combine, Reddick ran a 4.52 40-yard dash and leaped 11'1" in the long jump, which both ranked first out of defensive linemen.

Reddick didn't participate in the 40-yard dash at Temple's pro day, but he did participate in individual drills with the group of linebackers. The former walk-on looked comfortable and smooth dropping back into coverage during drills.

Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett was running the drills, and seemed to really have an eye on Reddick's skillset. The Bengals, who own the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, need a linebacker. A recent CBS Sports mock draft has Reddick being selected by the Bengals at ninth overall.

Reddick said teams like him at both outside and inside linebacker. He added that playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 system is what feels most natural to him after playing the edge at Temple.

"I just wanted to show what I could do from a position standpoint," Reddick said. "As far as at the combine, I believe with the testing of the 40, the broad and stuff I showed that I'm very explosive.

"I wanted to come here and show the coaches what they haven't seen that much on film."

Matakevich has high praise for Reddick
Former Temple and current Steelers linebacker, Tyler Matakevich, stopped by his alma mater's pro day on Wednesday.

After one year in the NFL with the Steelers, Matakevich sees similarities in Reddick's game with his teammate, Ryan Shazier.

"Absolutely," Matakevich said. "Shazier, he's unbelievable, he's special. I watch film with him every day and I talk to him, and some of the stuff he's able to do on the field you sort of just scratch your head. You're like, 'How did you just do that?' He's smooth, he withers his way through the holes, it's incredible. I think that's what Haason is going to do. He's just going to make plays whatever you do. His athletic ability is just unbelievable and that's what makes him so special and makes him able to do all of these ridiculous things."

Dawkins willing to play anywhere on the line
Dion Dawkins started at left tackle for Temple the past two seasons after battling injuries during his sophomore year.

However, he was listed as a guard at the Senior Bowl and the combine.

Dawkins said it's still unclear where he'll play in the NFL, but he's willing to play at any position on the offensive line.

"Teams see me as a right tackle, some see me as a left, some might see me as a left guard, so it's way up in the air," Dawkins said. "So I'm just taking it as I'm an athlete and I'll fit in the right spot where I'm supposed to fit."

Thomas offers versatility
Jahad Thomas was Temple's deadliest weapon on offense last season. He could line up as the feature back, catch passes out of the backfield and the slot and return kicks.

Thomas said at the combine many teams compared his style of play to dual-threat running backs James White, Darren Sproles and Tyreek Hill.

But one of the criticisms Thomas has faced entering the draft is his size at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, especially with a 4.62 40-yard dash time at the combine. 

Thomas said he plans on continuing to train and add some size leading up to the draft in April.

Deja-vu for Walker
Quarterback Phillip Walker, a two-star recruit out of Elizabeth, New Jersey, who was overlooked in high school, faces a very similar situation entering the NFL draft. After not getting a combine or Senior Bowl invite, Walker had an opportunity to showcase his arm to the scouts and coaches on Wednesday.

"That's when you rise to the top," Walker said. "I just go out there and compete at a high level, and you know I'm not afraid to go out there and compete," Walker said.

Walker has the arm strength, but his decision-making has always been an issue. Leading up to the pro day, he worked with Jenkins Elite, a football player development establishment in Colorado. He said they worked on a scripted pro day workout in order to prepare for Wednesday.

Walker tossed some nice deep balls, but also overthrew some targets. He said he plans on working with his former receivers Keith Kirkwood and Ventell Bryant leading up to the draft.

NFL scouts, coaches like Martin-Oguike's explosiveness
Praise Martin-Oguike made a name for himself in the trenches on Temple's defensive line last season, recording 7½ sacks, 10 tackles for loss and forcing three fumbles.

But Martin-Oguike said teams at the next level really liked his movement in coverage at the linebacker position.

"They said I looked good with the change of direction stuff, so I'm able to play linebacker," Martin-Oguike said. "I have the quickness and I'm explosive enough to play it, so they felt good about that.

"Some teams see me as a rush end, but most teams want me as a rush linebacker or a MIKE linebacker."

Deloatch drawing interest on both sides of the ball
Last year, Romond Deloatch played defensive end and tight end for Temple. He finished the year with 18 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown on offense, while racking up four sacks and seven tackles for a loss on defense.

Deloatch said teams like his experience on both sides of the ball. He added he doesn't have a preference of what side of the ball he's playing on, he just wants to help his team win like he did at Temple.

Williams thinks last year's draft class helped future classes
Last season, Temple players Robby Anderson and Kyle Friend signed on to practice squads and ended up making the team

Avery Williams believes this sends a message to the NFL about the kids coming out of Temple.

"A lot of people overlook Temple University, but what we do to the people who overlook us, we just punch them in the mouth and they can't deny it," Williams said.

Temple abandons identity against UConn, now searching for how to become bowl eligible

Temple abandons identity against UConn, now searching for how to become bowl eligible

BOX SCORE

This was personal for Logan Marchi.

After all, Temple’s starting quarterback wouldn’t even be sporting cherry and white Saturday afternoons if his original plan went as scheduled.

Marchi, a Bristol, Connecticut, native, was set to attend UConn after high school. That is, until his scholarship offer was pulled by the Huskies shortly before national signing day.

Temple ultimately came back around and reoffered to Marchi, who signed on the spot.

All of that added a little spice to Saturday’s matchup between Temple and Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field. Certainly, Marchi would want to put on a show. He just didn’t realize it would be a personal show.

Marchi dropped back for a career-high 54 pass attempts as Temple’s lopsided offense couldn’t help pull off a comeback in a 28-24 homecoming loss to UConn (see observations).

“I think any time you go into any game you want to try and be as balanced as you possibly can,” Temple offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “They did a good job early on in the first half of blitzing us and being aggressive in the run game. They also came in with a fairly porous pass defense, so we knew going in we felt like we would be able to throw it.”

Oh, they threw it all right. The Owls (3-4, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) threw when they were ahead early. They went to the air when things were tight during the middle of the game. And they tossed the ball around, even more, when they were trailing late.

It made for a nice day in the stat books for Marchi (career-best 356 yards, one touchdown and one interception). But, more importantly, it threw Temple’s offense out of whack as the team attempted 55 total passes (one spike to stop the clock not charged to Marchi) compared to 29 runs in the program’s first homecoming defeat since 2008.

“I would never imagine wanting to throw it 55 times,” Patenaude said. “We’re not like a Texas Tech type of group that wants to do that over and over again. You always want to be more balanced.”

Patenaude is exactly right. No one will ever mistake Temple’s offense for the Air Raid attack used by the Red Raiders. And that’s a good thing. TU has moved its way up the college football ranks the old-fashioned way: dominating the run game and playing stingy defense.

That commitment to the run is what allowed Bernard Pierce, Montel Harris and Jahad Thomas to all eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in recent Temple history.

Despite being banged up, Ryquell Armstead, David Hood and the rest of the team’s running backs are waiting for their chance to be able to join that list. They showed flashes against the Huskies as the rushing attack went over the century mark for a third straight game (117 yards) and produced just the second and third scores on the ground from tailbacks this season.

But that quest to have a run-first mentality wasn’t going to get started on this Saturday. The Owls were focused on putting on an aerial show right from the start vs. UConn (2-4, 1-3 AAC), which worked for a while against the AAC’s worst pass defense.

Marchi was on target early. He connected with his receivers downfield when those opportunities presented themselves. However, with the Huskies playing deep coverage, a lot of Marchi’s work came underneath. He found his backs time and again for checkdowns (Hood finished with a team-high eight catches for 91 yards).

That was fine until the Owls’ defense stumbled a bit and the team began trying to play catch-up. Then the wideouts endured a case of the drops and the redshirt sophomore QB threw a critical pick-six near the end of the third quarter to put Temple back down by 14 points.

“We’ve got to execute. We didn’t execute out there today,” Marchi said. “We’ve got to catch passes. We’ve got to make the throws that are there and move the ball better. I thought we did that well coming out in the second half, moving down the field. We’ve just got to make the plays that are there.”

“I thought Logan had some nice balls. We’ve challenged them for the last couple weeks. We’ve got to make those catches,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins said of the dropped passes. “I thought vs. ECU, we were making those catches. We were making the hard catches and we were making the routine catches. There were sometimes out there today, even some of the routine catches, we weren’t pulling down. We’ve got to make sure we do that. 

“It’s been a point of emphasis and we’ll just keep stressing it because in games like this every single time that you drop a pass or there’s an incompletion on a makeable catch, that sets you back. It hurts the momentum, it hurts the tempo. When we were clicking, we were hitting on all cylinders. We were moving the ball up and down the field. Then one drop or one missed target is going to not be good for us.”

True, Temple’s offense was clicking on all cylinders most of the day against UConn. TU won a majority of the battles on the stat sheet, particularly in total yardage (473-244).

Still, the Owls were the ones that walked away back under the .500 mark and searching for answers to how they can make it to bowl eligibility.

“There are obviously some hurt kids in there,” Collins said of the mood in the locker room.

Temple is better off when it's the one hurting opponents on the field, primarily on the ground.

Return of leader Josh Brown gives Temple backcourt depth to strike back

usa-josh-brown-temple-basketball.jpg
USA Today Images

Return of leader Josh Brown gives Temple backcourt depth to strike back

When fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown tore his Achilles tendon in late May 2016, it dealt a huge blow to the Owls’ 2017 NCAA Tournament chances.

Brown, who led the AAC with 36.2 minutes per game as Temple’s primary ball handler in 2015-16, underwent surgery on May 25 and came back for five games early in the year. But after a 78-57 loss at Villanova in mid-December, Brown was ruled out for the rest of the season.

The loss of the Owls’ backcourt leader put their young guards in a tough position, thrusting them into the spotlight without much experience. Although they acquitted themselves well, Temple had a disappointing season, finishing 16-16 and losing in the first round of the AAC Tournament to East Carolina.

The Owls did not advance to a postseason tournament and missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

However, with Brown returning for his fifth year after being granted a medical redshirt, the Owls' glaring weakness from last year is now their greatest strength.

“The [guard] rotation is going to be interesting for us,” head coach Fran Dunphy said. “We’ll probably play four guards a number of times because we have an abundance of guys that want to be out there and need to be out there on the court. We have a bunch of guys that are ready to go. Again, as our preseason stuff has been working, it’s been the competitiveness that has been terrific.”

Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. will be a big part of that rotation. After Brown was lost for the season in 2016-17, Alston became Temple’s primary ball handler as a sophomore with little experience.

He had to average 36.4 minutes per game and responded well, leading the team with 13.9 points and 4.1 assists per game.

“His mindset is totally different,” Brown said about Alston. “Going from his freshman year to his sophomore year, he was thrown into the fire and I thought he did a pretty good job, you know. Now, with all that experience he has on the court, I think he’s ready to take that next step and be a consistent scorer and a be a consistent guy on defense and be a consistent guy that we can all lean on.”

Sophomores Quinton Rose and Alani Moore had to make up for the absence of Brown, as well, averaging 24.8 and 25.8 minutes per game last year, respectively. Moore, a starter in his freshman year, likely will come off the bench this season, which is a true testament to the amount of depth the Owls have in the backcourt.

Moore’s offensive versatility, which allows him to bring the ball up in certain situations and play on the wing, as well, will be very important if the Owls want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament.

“You can let other guys bring it up and have others guys do other things on the court, so it helps out a great deal,” Brown said. “It opens up everybody’s game. Like Alani Moore, he’s a point guard, but he’s also a great shooter, so he can spot up from time to time and things like that.”

“Alani and Q aren’t your average sophomores,” Alston added. “We played almost the same amount of minutes [last year] and I’m a junior, so they’re very veteran guys already.”

Players have also been raving about the talent and competitiveness that freshmen guards/wings Nate Pierre-Louis, J.P. Moorman and De’vondre Perry have shown throughout the offseason and preseason.

“It’s amazing, I’ve never seen freshmen this ready to play,” Alston said. “J.P. can bring the ball up, ‘Dre can bring the ball up, even Nate sometimes, so it’ll help us a lot.”

When you factor Trey Lowe, a redshirt sophomore guard who missed all of last season as he has been recovering from a February 2016 car accident and could return later this season, into the equation, the Owls have an incredibly deep and versatile backcourt.

The last time the Owls made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament was in 2001 when they lost to Michigan State in the Elite Eight. According to Alston, immediately after the Owls were bounced from the AAC Tournament last year, they talked about their potential to make a run.

“We see teams like South Carolina go all the way, teams similar to ourselves that are not the big blood teams like Kentucky or Duke,” Alston said. “We think we can make it to the second round, third round or as far as we want.”

If they’re going to do it, their veteran backcourt will be the reason why.